22 Apr Why Application Security is Still Critical for Financial Services?
The financial services industry has seen a prolific rise in the use of applications in the last couple of years. Globally millions of customers already use a wide range of mobile app services, and it is estimated that the financial application industry will grow at a rate of 30% in the coming years.
In 2020 there were 26% more mobile app sessions as compared to 2019. Using applications for different financial and banking services is a rapid and convenient way to effectively manage your monetary resources like checking balance, transferring funds, paying bills and so on.
Financial apps are growing in precedence as several users using smartphones are on the rise. Also, applications are preferred more as it provides on the go services.
But the increase in the use of applications for financial purposes come with a whole new set of cyber security problems. Security is the principal requirement for an application in the financial industry as a lot of financial resources are at stake.
The application industry has still not reached its potential as there are apprehensions among customers, such as app security, data breach, etc. A good application must primarily provide trust, security and data privacy if they want a considerable number of customers using the application.
Since these applications are accessed anywhere from various devices and on numerous channels, there is a need for the financial company to build robust cyber security systems to prevent attacks and threats of any kind. The following are the kind of threats and some preventive measures that can be carried out to prevent malicious attacks.
Read Also: Cyber Security in Healthcare
Top Threats Pertaining to Mobile Applications for Financial Services Industry
There has been a rise in Mobile malwares designed specifically for applications on Mobile platform. Malware, once let in, can cause identity theft and data breach, which could lead to the stealing of personal and account information.
Due to COVID-19, many users access their organisation resources such as emails or files on one drive etc. on their personal mobile devices, if the users’ mobile device is compromised by malware this could result in potential breach to the organisation as sensitive information could be captured.
Many times, customers use third-party apps which do not have a strong security system. The third-party app can cause data breaches and information stealing. In worst-case scenarios, if you download the app from questionable sources, the chances are that the attacker may have created the app with threatening malware already embedded in it.
Man in The Middle and Session Hijacking
In this type of attack, the malicious actor acts as a third party and intercepts traffic between the user and the application of the financial organisation. If the data is not encrypted, it may lead to data breaches and session infiltrations.
Spoofing or Snooping Attacks
In this attack, the attacker can gain access to the company’s server or portal to request user parameters through a technique called snooping and then creates an attack script to send a forged request to the server.
Since the forged request has user traces or parameters, the server or the portal is forced to believe that the request is genuine and from the user. For instance, the attacker can intercept the session details between the user and the server of the application and launch a forged request initiating a financial transaction.
In these kinds of attacks, the attacker injects a malicious code in the network, which allows him/her access to all the user information from the database. Injection attacks are extremely dangerous as it may allow the attacker direct access to the database or underlying operating system and its configuration.
This would result in complete system takeover, and enable the attackers to execute arbitrary system commands.
These scams largely occur on unsecured third-party applications, which send in push notifications or app messages asking for your personal information. The messages may seem genuine but are embedded with a malicious code to extract personal information from the users.
Read Also : Phishing Attacks
Preventive Measures to Counteract Financial Application Scams
There are many preventive measures on the individual level as well as on the organisational level to prevent scams and data infiltration.
Adding a multifactor authentication acts as an extra layer of security as well as a warning system for unauthorised access. MFA can include anything from One-time passwords to fingerprint access to passcodes sent via messages or emails.
Sending the user, a message for validation also acts as a warning system for unauthorised or forced access as you know someone is trying to login to your system. You can then file an incident report or report to the concerned authorities to prevent the attack.
Read Also : Multi-Factor Authentication
Encourage Use of NFC Embedded SIM Cards
An NFC embedded sim card is a card the allows the user to securely download their personal account information or credit card details into the Near Field Communication sim cards. This allows the user to directly use personal information or credit card details without having to enter the details every time.
Organisations need to go one step ahead by authenticating and validating each request especially requests pertaining to financial transactions, even after post-login status. This will prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and session hijacks as every request would need a unique request Id which the server expects from the client or the customer.
Since there is an exchange of sensitive information between the user and the application server, end-to-end encryption is the need of the hour. End to end encryption ensures that the data is encrypted, and attack threatening data breach does not occur.
Read Also : Data Security and Protection
Alerts and Notifications
Offering real-time alerts and notifications through texts or apps also play a big role in detecting unauthorised access. The alert mechanism ensures that the customers are well aware of all the critical events or happenings in a financial transaction, such as fund transfer request, adding a beneficiary, password or username change. The alert mechanism also allows the customer to react quickly to unauthorised access or threat detection.
Adopt Behaviourally and Request Analysis
Financial institutions can adopt the behavioural model to keep track of the login and the online activity of the customers on the app. abnormal behaviours could be flagged, and an alert message can be sent to the customers giving details about the suspicious activity.
Read Also : Web Application Security Threats Faced by Banks
Applications and online platforms have made the financial process very convenient and easy to use on the go. However, as the app users increase, so does the probability of your data being compromised through various malicious attacks by cybercriminals.
By incorporating new technologies and having a robust security system, organisations can deflect and prevent attacks from malicious attackers. However, this a two-way street.
Having a sophisticated Cyber Security system will be of no use if the users or customers are not educated in basic Cyber Security issues identification and prevention. Financial institutions should also undertake the steps of educating and training customers against the prevention of attacks and on basic security hygiene.
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